Return of Gopher football still means men's programs will be cut

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Ensuring the safety of athletes, coaches, and other personnel was ultimately the deciding factor into bringing Big Ten football back according to University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle.

Related Big Ten Football to Return in Late October With Daily COVID-19 Testing

Coyle told WCCO's Dave Lee on Thursday morning there were a number of questions that needed to be answered before Wednesday's decision.

"We've had many, many calls with medical people across the conference, presidents, and chancellors. We felt like were able to answer those medical questions," Coyle said in Thursday's interview. "The daily antigen rapid testing is going to be a game changer for us. We feel like we can provide a safe environment for our students to play on a clean field."

The Gopher Athletic Department, along with other B1G athletic departments, will absorb the costs of the testing procedures. Big 10 testing protocols will begin September 30.

"That way, we have consistency across the 14 member institutions, that we all have the testing procedures, and our goal is to provide a safe, competitive field," said Coyle.

Players' families will be allowed to attend Gopher football games. There are no plans to open attendance up to other outside fans, but Coyle left the door slightly open as the season progresses.

"Each state with the Department of Health has different guidelines, and we'll obviously follow our Department of health guidelines working closely with President Gable, etcetera," Coyle said. "But right now we're looking at only allowing players families at the beginning of the season."

Last week, recommendations to cut men's track and field, tennis, and gymnastics were made to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Coyle says bringing back football in October doesn't change anything.

"It's a difficult decision we had to make based on the financial strain caused by the pandemic and some of the other things we're dealing with financially," said Coyle.

Related Gopher athletes affected by cuts keeping up hope, planning campus rally

As for postseason play, Coyle was preparing to learn more about how bowl games would handle the season and which bowl spots would be open.

"I actually have a call at 7:00 (Thursday morning) with the B1G athletic directors and I'll learn more at that time. We'll have to work our way through some of those bowl questions here in the coming days."